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Obese Soldiers and Recruits

(KFOR NEWS  December 6, 2019)  The U.S. military has a crisis on its hands, soldiers weigh to much and recruits are too heavy to serve.  The Department of Defense now spending more than $1 billion a year on obesity-related health care costs for current and former service members of the military and their families.

The Nutrition Coalition is urging Congress to examine the impact of federally funded nutrition policy has on military health. During a recent House Appropriations Subcommittee hearing, Nebraska 1st District Republican Congressman, Jeff Fortenberry, noted that since 1980, Dietary Guidelines have not kept Americans healthy.

In a House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel hearing on “Military Health System Reform: A Cure for Efficiency and Readiness?”, Nina Teicholz, Executive Director of The Nutrition Coalition said, “The United States military is facing an urgent health crisis, in large part due to overweight and obesity rates among active duty service members, which has risen 73 percent between 2011 and 2015.  This is costing our nation and our taxpayers billions of dollars with the Department of Defense now spending almost $1.5 billion annually on obesity-related health care costs for current and former service members and their families.  With 71% of young people between the ages of 17 and 24 failing to qualify for military service, we are urging Congress to examine the impacts of our nation’s nutrition policy on military obesity and readiness to ensure these policies are not contributing to, but instead addressing this critical issue of national security.”

The meals provided to our armed forces in military dining facilities are determined by the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DGA), a nutrition policy developed by the U.S. Departments of Agriculture (USDA) and Health and Human Services (HHS). The guidelines are the single-most powerful influence on the American diet.

Since the implementation of the DGA in 1980, however, the incidence of chronic, diet-related diseases in America have dramatically increased. Adult obesity rates have doubled; childhood obesity rates have nearly tripled; and two-thirds of all American adults are now overweight or have obesity. According to a 2015 report from the Rand Corporation, some two-thirds of our nation’s active military personnel are overweight or have obesity as well.

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